A Shared Endeavor

The 185-foot Endeavor is scheduled for retirement in the next five years.

The critical effort to keep ocean exploration alive at URI

The University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography has created a consortium with two major institutions to operate the research vessel Endeavor for its final years and to jointly submit a proposal to operate a new ship, which would also be based at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus.

The National Science Foundation owns the Endeavor and will decide which institution gets its replacement. In forming the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium, URI—along with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire—is building on a history of cooperative research, and educational and outreach opportunities in ocean science and exploration.

The three lead institutions are joined by 11 associate members: Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences; Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine; Brown University; Columbia University; Harvard University; Ocean Exploration Trust; University of Maine; University of Miami; University of Puerto Rico; the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

The National Science Foundation is planning a total of three new ships for the academic fleet. Not only will the new ships have better science labs and workspace, they will feature improved technologies and more comfortable berthing. A positioning system that enables ships to remain in one place for long periods will also distinguish them. It is expected to announce its decision this summer.

The 185-foot Endeavor is scheduled for retirement in the next five years; the typical lifespan of a large research vessel is about 30 years, and the Endeavor has lasted more than four decades thanks to GSO’s careful vessel stewardship and maintenance. It carries a crew of 12 and up to 17 scientists, and since its christening in 1976, has taken scientists, teachers and educators from URI and around the world on more than 600 expeditions throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and even to the Arctic.

Endeavor has made important contributions to the state’s economy,” says GSO Dean Bruce Corliss, “and the work conducted aboard the ship has advanced our understanding of oceanographic processes. Our consortium will ensure that groundbreaking oceanographic research continues throughout the world.”

“Together, URI, UNH and Woods Hole have accounted for more than a billion dollars in ocean science research funding over the past five years,” says GSO Director of Administration James Patti. “That record, combined with our extensive experience operating research vessels, is a cornerstone of URI’s proposal.” •